Saturday, July 31, 2010

There's nothing quite like...

...cleansing laughter, entertaining TV, some nice wine, and a nearly orgasmic piece of fine Omaha steak to swing a positive end to a fairly awful week. My mood is tremendously improved, and I fully intend to sleep like a baby tonight.

Tomorrow, I exorcise the demons of the Power Outage Fridge. God help me. But the condemned woman did have a fine last meal before opening Pandora's box of stink meat.

(Some may ask, Merujo, why wait until now to clean out the diseased refrigerator and freezer? Well, here's the deal: 1) I was just too damn tired from sleeping a couple of hours each night and then going into work at 4:30 or 5 in the morning to escape the heat; 2) I wanted to wait until my apartment cooled down again before beginning the kitchen purge; and 3) I *really* wanted to wait until whatever bacteria got stirred up in the unintentional hotbox had been reduced to slow and sluggish bugs by the cooling process before starting the crime scene clean up. Also, I didn't want to open the freezer and have everything run like a river of blood at an abattoir.)

I still haven't bought new groceries. After hearing we might get more thunderstorms this weekend, I didn't want to invest in new food only to have it go bad. Again. For the fourth time this year.

Time to brush teeth and hit the hay. Sweet dreams, friends!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just sayin'...

If the power isn't back on in my 'hood by, oh, midnight tonight, I think dumping the rotten contents of my fridge and freezer in front of PEPCO's corporate office sounds like a good idea. Old school protest style - my Macalester grass roots are showing.

Another note for PEPCO: don't tout a phone number where folks can call and talk to an actual human to get restoration times if people are going to call in and be told, "Oh, we have no restoration time for your area. CLICK."


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Screw you, PEPCO

To the Management of the glorious Potomac Electric Power Company:

A few requests...

I'd like you to cover the cost of my fridge & freezer full of spoiled food (third time this year.)

I'd like you to spend the next few nights, tossing and turning on my sofa as the temperatures soar again.

I'd also like your reps to not make ridiculous comments on the radio, suggesting that people WITHOUT ANY POWER go check your website for updates and to see the outage map (oh, the bitter laughter in my car over that one!)

Most of all, I'd like you to turn the frigging power back on.

Don't feel like being nice at this point. This crap happens far too often. Friday is when you expect the power to come back on for everyone? I wonder how many elderly or ill people will suffer health crises in the next few days after being stuck in stifling conditions. And how many folks, including me, will be struggling to figure out where to get the money to replace the ruined food.

Screw you, PEPCO. You need to have a "come to Jesus" moment about your infrastructure and your ability to respond to emergencies.

For the record, I appreciate everything the guys in the trucks and on the ground are doing; my big middle finger is for the management of PEPCO.

You're doing this wrong.

This post inaugurates a new label for blog entries: "PEPCO." Why? Because I see a theme developing.


Monday, July 26, 2010

I would have sucked at living in the 1800s

Nothing like a ice-cold shower to wake you up at 5:45 in the morning. And a short shower at that, since we're under mandatory water restrictions.

Power's been out at home since a killer storm turned the sky pitch black yesterday afternoon and wiped out electricity to about 300,000 PEPCO customers in my county alone. Of course, I'd just gone grocery shopping for the week the day before.

And all my summer work clothes were in the washers in the basement.

Aaand I had a crock pot bubbling away.

Embarrassingly, I also had a Twilight movie from Redbox in my DVD player. You know, I don't mind spending an extra buck or two on a Redbox movie when it's a good movie, but Twilight: New Moon? Yeesh. It's still stuck in my DVD player.

Got up to about 85F in the apartment overnight. I listened to old time radio on NPR until I finally fell asleep in a sweaty heap on the sofa (so I could be near the open balcony door.) I did love the sound of silence, save for the birds, crickets, and cicadas.

Well, I loved it until one of my neighbors got the brilliant idea to sleep in his car overnight, running the engine so he could use the A/C all night. Nothing like having some dumbass idling his car directly outside your window to make a challenging - and sweaty - situation more challenging. My upstairs neighbor had started pacing around when this guy decided to add to the problem by cranking up his radio high enough that his car was vibrating. I felt like a cop when I finally wandered outside around 1 in the morning, and tapped on his window with my Maglite. "Uhhh, dude, you know you're keeping this whole building awake?" He drove off to go sleep somewhere else. Go with god, car dude. Just go with God on another street.

Food in my fridge is ruined. My laundry is soaking wet. Power likely won't be restored until sometime Tuesday, at the earliest. I'll have to see if I can find some fresh ice somewhere tonight to save the stuff I was able to fit into my cooler. (Giant had a back-up generator running and was selling half-thawed bags of ice yesterday. Took over an hour to get a mile up the road, buy ice, and get back home.)

I know, whine, whine, whine. Things could be MUCH worse. This is true. Try imagine no electricity 24/7, all while wearing wool and/or layers of petticoats. I'm barely cut out for the 21st century. I wouldn't have lasted a week here on the swamp back in the day.

Now, you'll have to excuse me. I need to go swoon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Eh, screw it!

I was going to hit the AMC Theatres @ White Flint for a 9:10 a.m. showing of "Inception" tomorrow (well, hell - it's 1:44 in the morning, so make that today) but I think the phrase that pays right now is fuhgettaboutit! I got four movies from Redbox and I'll have a leisurely day of doing laundry, dishes, and making a crock pot of sirloin tips in fresh mushroom sauce (to be served over zucchini - guest starring in the role of pasta.) I can see "Inception" later. I just realized that, even at the ungodly flick-viewing hour of 9 ayem, there will likely be a ton of peeps looking for a place with blasting A/C to shelter from Mutha Nature's major thermostatic malfunction.

Okay. Alarm turned off. It's sack time! Tomorrow, a little Scandahooligan subtitle magic and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is Giles available in sugar-free?

Jones Soda, the people who brought us the disgusting Turkey & Gravy soda (and, as of last year, dear god, Tofurky & Gravy soda) now have flavors - in limited edition bottles - celebrating the comic book series Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

I haven't had sugared soda in a looong, looong time, and I won't be consuming these, thanks. But I do like the thought of a tall glass of Giles. Or Xander.

A tall glass, indeed.

You know, something cool to slowly, seductively sip out on the veranda when it's ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN degrees outside tomorrow. Then again, screw the slow seductive sip - might as well just shotgun that drink in the hopes of keeping your innards from igniting.

Guess I'll just have to settle for ice water with lime slices (and cowering in the cool, cool dark) all weekend. But if they do ever make Sugar-Free Giles (or Diet Xander), sign me up, babe! Englishmen and cute dudes with eyepatches? You just can't go wrong!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Swift Kick to the Ego

One should never look at the London School of Economics alumni magazine, unless one is prepared to see that folks with whom one studied are now "Minister of This" or "Minister of That" in their home countries.

(And then have to look in the fridge to see if there's enough Miracle Whip Light to make a tuna salad sandwich.)

I think dinner may simply be a large glass of cheap Australian red.

Consumed while wearing my tin crown labeled "Queen of the Universe."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are we hurtling rapidly toward the sun?

I think, on a whole, I'd prefer to be in San Diego at Comic Con this weekend. Big time.

Welcome to the Hellmouth, kids:

Level 42

Friends, after years of saying "One day, I have to see Mark King play the bass live," I finally got that chance last night at Rams Head in Annapolis. Level 42 was fantastic, and the room was a very happy one. Funky, fabulous, and I wish I could afford to go see them again tonight at the Birchmere.

Drove home from the bay with the windows open, singing the whole way. Ahhh! What a fine night. And much gratitude to the band for really giving us one hell of a good show. For me, it always makes a gig even better when the band seems to really be having a good time and is projecting that wonderful truth that *everyone* in the room is having a damn good time. That's what we got at Rams Head.

And, adorably, keyboardist Mike Lindup did the "been trying to reach your shores" and "waves of doubt" moves last night, just like in the video below. What a blast!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

If you read my Air & Space article...

...please be sure to leave a comment on the A&S website, so the editors know if you enjoyed it. I've put permalinks over at the top right of the blog to both the main article and the slide show with additional vignettes from my mother's life and the story of the WASP. You can leave comments on either - or both - pieces on the A&S site.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for leaving feedback!!

From the Church of the Big Sky Way-Back Machine: On Love of Music

I was going to go see "Inception" early this morning - do a "Crepes and Apes" thing.* But around midnight last night, I got socked with a migraine the likes of which I haven't encountered in a long, long time. Tsumani-esque waves of nausea, stabbing pain, the whole nine yards. So, I turned off the alarm and curled up in a fetal ball last night for a little miserable shut-eye.

And while I woke up late this morning feeling marginally less queasy, I could feel the heat seeping through the balcony door. Without even opening a window, I knew the air outside was heavy and tangible. The morning was sultry, to borrow a little from "Throw Mama From the Train." It's not fit for man or beast or bug this afternoon, with the heat index close to 100F, so archery and a brisk walk are off my agenda. My cranium is still throbbing, so I'm going to retreat back into my dimly lit living room with a big bottle of water and a fistful of ibuprofen.

However, in my grand plan to continue my campaign to write regularly and keep flogging the blogging horse, I'll share with you a post I wrote just about three years ago about my love of music - and my sadness at missing a rare Crowded House concert in the area because of empty pockets and a car that needed to be shot like Ol' Yeller. This came to mind because I'll be going to hear Crowded House out at Wolf Trap in a few days - and, Dear God and Mutha Nature, hear my plea: let this oppressive heat and humidity let up before I have to sit in the sun on the Wolf Trap lawn, okay?

So, while my aching brain and I wuss out on writing something new, enjoy this: An Act of Simple Devotion.

* "Crepes and Apes" refers to the practice of going to see movies early on Sunday mornings (as to avoid much annoying yammering and cell phone activity) in tandem with a stop at the local IHOP. This originated when friends and I went to see the Tim Burton remake of "Planet of the Apes" after an IHOP breakfast during a crepe promotion. And - voila - "Crepes and Apes" was born!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Did the earth move for you, too, baby?

We just had an earthquake! A small one, for sure - 3.6 magnitude, epicenter just a few miles up the road from me in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Everything in my building shook, and one of my framed posters took a swan dive to the floor. Glass didn't break, though, and I attribute the fall more to my lame efforts at picture hanging than the mild "shake and wake" of the quake.

Ironic that Ms. Insomnia was actually sleeping for once when this happened at 5:04 a.m. And now, I'm fully awake. On my day off.

Earthquakes: Mother Nature's alarm clock. Hopefully, she didn't hit the snooze. No need for aftershocks, please - really, I'm up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Props from the Alma Mater

Sweet! My alma mater, Macalester College, tweeted about my Air & Space article and posted it to their Facebook page. Too cool. :)

My fabulous college advisor Gitta Hammarberg was behind that. Thanks, Gitta! And thanks for initiating me into the cult of Lipson and his "udarniki" and "bezdel'niki."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Air & Space article is out!!

Hello, folks!

At long last, the article I wrote about my mother & the WASP has been published. It will be in the August 2010 issue of Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine (and I hope it sells out on the news stand!! Buy a hard copy, please!!)

Today, the article went up on the Air & Space website. And what's wonderful is that the fine folks of Air & Space went far above and beyond in including great extras to supplement the story. Along with the feature, there is a gallery of all the photos included in the physical magazine, as well as an MP3 of Mom talking about Charles Lindbergh inspiring her back when she was only five years old.

And - making it all even more cool - they included a "web extra" slide show of additional photos coupled with the stories that had to be cut from the magazine for space considerations. How awesome is that?!?

I would like to say thank you to great people at Air & Space - especially Rebecca Maksel, the amazing editor who worked with me on this piece. She has had infinite patience with me.

If you enjoy it, please leave a comment on the Air & Space website. The feedback would be great and much appreciated.

I hope you enjoy it. It's probably the most important story I'll ever tell in this lifetime.

I'll never forget, Mom.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Welcome to Washington, DC!

Blogger comments are screwed today

Hi folks,

Just FYI - Blogger is having problems and many people, including me, currently cannot moderate/publish comments from readers. So, please know you are not being ignored. Just can't get the system to cooperate. And trying to get answers from the Blogger folks is very challenging. (The support group is full of frustrated peeps.)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Roku, how I love thee!

Have I mentioned how much I love my little Roku machine? Yes, the initial investment set me back a little under $100, but if you're on a short financial chain, but love movies and music, it's a godsend and worth turning a trick or two to buy. I have my $10 (well, $9.53) one-DVD-a-month Netflix account, which comes with all-you-can-eat viewing from their instant play menu. And there are so many other free channels I get (my Pandora stations, Radio Paradise, etc.) - man I love it!

Today, I added the freebie to my Roku line up. Right now, I get 2GB of free "locker" space for music and videos from my iTunes account that I can now listen to/watch through the TV. When you sync your Roku to, you get an invite for an upgrade to 10GB of freebie iTunes locker space. That's a nice pile of your hand-picked songs for a party or a day of lounging with a book. Sweeeeeet!

I got one of my sisters hooked on Roku, and she's got her own little black box now. It's addictive pleasure for shallow-pocketed pop culture freaks. Really, it's heaven. I have so many foreign films lined up to watch, I could run my own art house cinema.

And right now, I'm listening to brand spankin' new Thomas Dolby music through my TV. Ah, technology! Sometimes you really are grand!

And hey, kids - if you haven't heard Mr. Dolby's first new studio music in 20 years, it's time to hie yourself over to his website, join his forum, and then, for $2.99, you can revel in some gorgeous and fun new tunes. Seriously - go get his new "Amerikana" EP. It's an exclusive download (with swanky digital booklet!) for registered members of his official forum, the Flat Earth Society. Three killer tracks for less than a Starbucks coffee, folks! Once you hear "17 Hills," I guarantee you will be hooked on Dolby music all over again.

Go! Now! Get new music! Fall in love!

And if you don't have one, consider a Roku. Brilliant item. And, no, they're not paying me to express my love for the little black box. It's just another awesome thing that I think you should know about it and get for yourself.

And now, back to the sofa and my "Veronica Mars" Season One Netflix marathon. Ahh, air conditioning, the La-Z-Boy, a pitcher of ice water, and good TV. On a hot summer night, that's all you need.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The sizzle you hear... not meat on a grill. It's the Washington area, gearing up for a week of weather worthy of Hades itself.

It's currently 94F here in DC - and that reading is likely in the shade. For the poor, patriotic bastards (an estimated 500,000 strong - eek!) hunkered down in the direct sun on the National Mall, it's got to feel like it's over 100. I bet the DC paramedics are doing a booming business with heat exhaustion cases today as people wait hours and hours for the festivities to begin.

I've done the 4th of July on the Mall before, but from the relative comfort and safety of the roof garden at the National Air & Space Museum during my time as a Star Wars exhibit volunteer. Gotta say, that *was* pretty damn awesome. But now that I've done it once, I don't have to do it again. The crowds, the traffic, and the heat just add up to an urban nightmare, and - call me a loner loser - watching fireworks in hi-def in my air conditioned living room (on a spine-friendly sofa) gets the thumbs up this year.

Back home in Illinois, I used to love going out to watch the fireworks. There's something very comforting about the sense of small(ish) town community with neighbor-strangers, chilling on blankets and the backs of pick-up trucks, all ooh-ing and aah-ing together over the modest pyrotechnics. Traffic was rarely bad leaving the gathering site, and we were always home in a few minutes to unload the cooler and shake off some grass from the hillside where we'd plopped down to enjoy the display.

But here, it's different. The flag-waving camaraderie dies faster than the dissipating smoke, and it's a massive heat stroke clusterfrak- and a half a tank of gas or a stifling, claustrophobic squishfest on the Metro - just to get out of downtown. Go with God, Mall watchers! I'll have a gin & tonic and raise it in your honor as the John Philip Sousa plays. I'll celebrate the holiday tomorrow with the Sasquatch as we picnic indoors with filet mignon (thank you, Harris Teeter, for marking down the nice steak to cheaper-than-hamburger prices!!), watermelon, and a good flick on the Roku.

Though it's a (federal) holiday for some - including me - Mother Nature is officially heralding Hellish Work Week '10 tomorrow with a 98F scorcher. I return to the office slog on Tuesday, when we're expecting a high of 101F. And kiddies, that does NOT include the heat index. Weatherdudes are saying that should feel like something between 105 - 110F.

Drink up and be merry tonight, DC friends, for Satan himself is ready to put the screws to us for several days in a row. Stay hydrated, slather on the sunscreen, and, for now, happy holidays!!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

It's that time of year again...

...when most of the hits on my blog are fireworks-hungry people looking for information about that Midwestern Mecca of explosives, Krazy Kaplans:

The sign says "Buy 1, get 6 free!" but that was 2006.
Their (awful) website says "buy one, get one free!"
Damn economy!!!

I wonder how many guv'ment lists I just got added to by having the words "Mecca" and "explosives" in the same sentence. (Kinda joking, but sadly not entirely joking.)

Happy 4th of July, friends! Picnic well, wear lots of sunscreen and mosquito repellent, and may your fireworks be "ooh and ahh" worthy!